It’s funny how fast time really flies despite the fact that it often seems that it is just creeping by. With all the graduations that go on in the month of May, I must admit that I felt a bit nostalgic as I thought about the few times that I’ve graduated from some program. However, today is semi-different as it marks four years since I graduated from college. The funny thing is that May 28th wasn’t the original date that was supposed to happen. Living in Alabama, severe weather usually occurred during tornado season. That year, there was a tornado that came through parts of North Alabama with some disastrous results. I remember my last class in undergrad (didn’t know it at the time) and how somehow it just felt so final. Around the time of finals a huge storm came through and left thousands (including me) without power. I must admit that living without electricity isn’t something that I particularly enjoy doing. A phone call made with my rapidly dying cell phone to my parents confirmed that they were enjoying 21st century living with hot water and electricity as the storm had missed them. Gas pumps weren’t working but thankfully I had a full tank of gas and slowly made my way to my parents house around downed power lines and hundreds of non-working stoplights. But I digress. Needless to say graduation was canceled (postponed) for two weeks. I remember the anticipation that led up to the day. It was the culmination of a LOT of hours of hard work, sweat, and tears. One thing that was reassuring was that I had a plan of what I was doing afterwards. I remember how hot the robe was and trying to concentrate as I marched so that I didn’t trip and fall. It was a very very long day that started around 6 in the morning and ended at 3am the next morning, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. I saw so many family members and celebrated with them. I had my name announced all over the arena and got the diploma holder that represented almost $100,000 in money spent for education and the hope that this degree would ensure that I didn’t live in poverty for the next 5 decades. Reminiscing is great, but the real question is what has been accomplished since then? That’s a sobering thought.
One of the most common pieces of relationship advice is to be what you’re seeking. If you want someone mature, be mature. If you want someone clean, be clean. The thing about this whole train of thought is that life isn’t always that simple. While this might work in certain contexts, it’s not an absolute rule. Opposites attract, people change, life happens. One of the things I knew that I couldn’t expect or require in a significant other when starting my doctorate was a similar education attainment as me. I’ve met so many people who’ve used their education as a crutch for their loneliness. This has been especially true of women. The fact of the matter is that complementarity is more important than mirroring. If it was that simple we would just clone ourselves. I don’t expect my future significant other to have a stupid amount of degrees. I’m not necessarily requiring even a bachelors. There are so many other factors that matter more. I’m more concerned about fathering skills, ability to provide, family dynamics, and genuineness than a piece of paper saying that some program of study was completed. Because at the end of the day, that’s not a challenge or an issue unless someone in the relationship makes it one. A significant other should make you want to be the best version of you as possible and sometimes that route includes education. Mutual respect and a teamwork mentality will go a long way. We get so caught up on the physical and what they do for a living that we forget about the daily characteristics and habits that make them who they are as people. The truth is that an educated man can beat you just as hard as an uneducated one. And while that example may be a bit out there, the point still stands. Stop trying to find a human mirror and look for someone whose dreams, goals, and ambitions mesh with yours. Values should be shared but you want a different perspective that complements your own. These impossible standards have to be re-evaluated.